Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Tag

Nothing means anything… You do not “know” anything…   3 comments

To be real we must get over our perceptions that we know things. Knowing, in a way is prejudice, when we think we know something we shut down our awareness and stop being open to the moment.

Who we are changes each moment… we exist as a being not just in a physical form but as an entity in time, the moment by moment perception of reality defines who we are.

As such “who we are” is always in flux if we are always sensitive to the changing circumstances. Whenever I am fixed in my perception of who I am, I forget to take every situation as is comes to me. For example if I perceive myself as a “teacher” then I will act out by trying to educate…..  If I perceive myself as being “helpful” then I will act out by thinking I am above a situation.

I often hear people say……”I help people”  but this in effect is coming from a place that says…..”I am better than the people that I perceive as needing help”

Or for example “I teach” … In reality, no one teaches anymore than the student’s capacity to learn…and so learning is a higher skill than teaching. In this regard the student only “learns” what he wants to from a given experience, the teacher only shows the student whatever the “teacher” thinks is important coming from the teachers perspective.

When a person thinks they are teaching they are putting what they do above the student who is actually doing the work of “learning”.  After all, it is the learning that is important, not the teaching.

Thinking that things “mean something” disrespects the spirit of the moment in that if we are always learning then we must be open to the possibility that maybe “it” means something else…..Every moment has different possibilities. Getting over our perception that somehow we “know“ the meaning of something is a way to finding harmony in a new reality of infinite possibility.

These concepts are a subtle learning we get from Taiji practice. Indeed, it is somewhat arrogant to always be so sure we know what something means.  When we are so sure we know something, we show our lack of understanding that “things are not always what they seem”.

The Nature of Love   2 comments

"Love"

Sensitivity, Understanding, Forgiveness, Compassion, Detachment, Liberation, Nurturance, Heaven

These are some thoughts about love from my Taoist perspective; that compassionate detachment is the highest virtue and discontentment the greatest misfortune and understanding that even “joy” is not always a good thing and that often “sadness” is. Finding a balance with our emotions keeps the qi balanced within our internal organs; indeed unchecked emotions lead to “stuck qi”, the root of most sicknesses.

Some say love is an emotion; I think not.  Emotions, largely, are calls to action, fear, anger, worry, sadness, loneliness, frustration, guilt; all these things are actually telling us what we need. To my mind, “love” is what I would call a “state of being,” the catalyst that facilitates our understanding of our emotions. My previous post about the nature of evil tries to explain how unchecked negative emotions tend to escalate, culminating into a state of being I call “evil”. I did not get this from any book or anything, these are just my personal opinions based on my observations.

Love then, would be the opposite of evil, in that when we respond to emotions in a positive way we move in that direction.  This love is not that “romantic love” that is often controlling, manipulative, and selfish and even at times leads to evil; think of the love/hate relationships many people suffer through.  No, true love is something far greater than that. True love is something many people will never know, oh, they think they know about love, but seldom follow a truly loving path. It can be a very sad thing when one mistakes a greedy, needy, clingy, self-serving definition of “love” for the truth about what is means to really love.

If you reread the post about the nature of evil, you will see I outlined several emotional steps that progressively twist normal emotional signals out of harmony with the truth. Each time we move along the chain of emotions and fail to choose the correct action we unwittingly take a turn each time towards the dark side.  Collectively choosing the “negative” options for each subsequent emotion leads us farther and farther away from ’love” and closer and closer to evil. I attempt to illustrate this with a sliding scale moving from Evil on the left to Love on the right.

Remember the steps leading to evil?
Fear… Anger… Resentment…  Hate… Prejudice…  Domination… Destruction…and Hell.  Today I will give you my corollary to that progressively sick, evolution of animal’s way of dealing with our emotions. The answers are simple really; each negative emotion has an “antidote” so to speak that will (if followed) take one away from the darkness and into the light. Consider the following comparison of each negative emotion and its opposite, one choice leads to Heaven the other leads to Hell.

Fear……………………..…Sensitivity
Anger………………………Understanding
Resentment….……………Forgiveness
Hate………………………..Compassion
Prejudice ………………….Detachment
Domination……………..….Liberty
Destruction…………….…..Nurturance
Hell………………………….Heaven

I know all this is a very common sense thing and yet is seems nothing is so rare these days as “common sense.” Before you let an emotion take you on a ride towards the dark side apply these simple solutions:

Next time you feel fearful, be sensitive to the situation and keep your awareness. If you feel anger rising up, understand that maybe your rules are too strict or maybe you need to explain them better to others or just get out! Instead of resenting others, forgive them immediately, on the spot; resentment is a major pivot point towards evil. Before you find yourself resenting, judging, and hating someone, just find your compassion for whatever may be driving your harsh judgment that leads to hate. If you feel hate it may develop into prejudice about a person or a situation. The answer to these hateful feelings is to just detach from it, no matter how loathsome you may think something is, you can at least be glad that it is not you or about you!  When judging and hating others, people often start controlling and manipulating in an attempt to dominate them, maybe because they feel out of control themselves. Liberate them instead!  Just let it go or get yourself out… Give them all the freedom you would hope for yourself. True love never gives ultimatums or forces people to comply with rules; this applies to government as well. Instead of acting out of frustration at your failed attempts to control and coerce, (and thereby destroying your relationships or your communities) instead be nurturing of the other’s right to be free. All these responses are loving ways to relate that could save your family, nation and our world, if only people would choose them.

Even if only for yourself, follow these principles. According to Chinese medical theory, uncontrolled emotions cause energy to stagnate and damage the organs, for example:

Fear can damage the kidneys and bladder
Anger can disrupt the liver and gall bladder
Passion can upset the heart and small intestines
Worry can damage your stomach and spleen
Grief may lead to fluid in the lungs and obstructions in the large intestine.

Balanced emotions actually benefit each of the organs; healthy emotions cure each other. Later I will explain how healthy anger can cure fear, and how a little passion can help you get over anger; that worry can save you from excess joy and passion, and some grief is a good way to let go of your worries. Coming full circle, some healthy fear can pull you out of grief.

And what makes this all work? What magic element, process, elixir, or “emotion” turns the “wheel of emotions”? You guessed it I am sure. By living in a “State of Love” remaining, Sensitive, Understanding, Forgiving, Compassionate, Detached, Liberating, and Nurturing in all your dealings you can stay forever in Heaven, forever contented and forever loving.

See also:  The Nature of Evil

Understanding Reality, Being a “Real Human”   1 comment

The Universe

“The sage sees the whole universe without going out the door”

If you only learned to meditate, it would be the most valuable experience of your life.  To gain understanding, a wordless gift of knowing that you’ve always had, but haven’t used is a profound thing indeed. I am paraphrasing Roy Masters work “Be still and Know” and yet there is so much more going on when we do qigong.

By combining physical exercise and meditation, we gain more than can be had by just “exercising” or “meditating”.  The synergy is further enhanced by the other attributes of qigong, like the way we exercise, opening up the joints, and skeletal system and the sequential opening and closing of the muscles and energy pathways within our bodies.  There is really no other “exercise” like qigong; in my opinion there is no better exercise, and yet it is so much more.

Dissolving your mind and body using qigong also has a calming and strengthening effect on our emotions as well.  To liberate your mind from the emotional prison that has kept the real you locked up without your knowledge is not an insignificant gain!

The understanding gained from proper practice gives insight to all things. The meaning of the quote from the “Tao Te Ching” written above is this: Within everyone, there are elements of all things; a celestial world, we are a microcosm of the universe. Every atom is like a minute solar system, all our cells are virtual galaxies, and our consciousness is like God, indeed, if you can truly know yourself, then you can understand the whole universe.

I often wonder what if we all could expand our understanding in this way.  Yet it was once the normal way for humans. Our convoluted lives have dulled our sense of reality; learning to get in touch with our true objective self is to understand a separate reality, a primordial knowledge that is the “Way” we were intended to be….. Freedom from contrivance, like an un-carved block of wood, becoming what Nature (God?) intended for us.

If you have a goal in life, make it to be a fully integrated human being by being balanced in each realm of human functioning. Don’t be a “spiritual person” or an “intellectual”, and do not be a slave to your emotions and don’t ignore or indulge them. Stop always seeking physical gratification or obsessing about your body.  To be a “Real Human” you need to be in control of all of these things.

Balancing all these separate things naturally into one universe is, for me…..The Way, Taiji the “Supreme Ultimate” and qigong is the path to the Way….. The Way to divinity, to freedom, to perfect health, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Earth Day   7 comments

We cannot "save the planet"

Did you know?

The earth has survived volcanoes, ice ages, earthquakes, floods, erosion, plate tectonics, collisions with asteroids, gamma ray bursts, and who knows whatever for billions of years; always surviving, evolving and adapting.

Did you also know that in China in 1931 between one and 2.5 million people died in a flood?
Or that also in China in 1887 between 900,000 and 2 million people died in a flood.
In addition, in 1556, an earthquake killed 830,000 in China.
And another earth quake in China in 1976 left 242,419 people dead? And in 1920, 243,117?
How about the earthquake-generated tsunami in Indonesia, 230,000 lives lost.
And the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 230,000?

The eruption of the Volcano in Iceland puts more CO2 into the air in one day than the entire population of Europe did in the last 100 years.  And did you know that CO2 is a scant 0.033% of the atmosphere; and it is the only source of life for all the green plants on the Earth?

Did you also know 250 million people each year get malaria resulting in between one to 2.7 million deaths? In addition, did you know that environmentalists, through the EPA banned DDT, and yet DDT was heralded as having saved over 500 million lives in the two decades before it was banned?

The bottom line is: we cannot “save the planet” and conversely we cannot destroy the planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy the planet when we are only a minuscule drop in an ocean of planetary history?  Everything here is from here….whatever we dig up, or burn or eat or whatever, came from here and it is going to stay here. The planet will adapt and evolve. We may not adapt however, and so life goes on. The planet will be fine.

Yin/Yang, Taoist thought understands these things, sure, we all want a clean environment, and we also don’t want millions to die from malaria or perish in cheaply made lightweight vehicles.  Nature always works things out.  If we are not meant to survive then, we will not. Perhaps we need war and disease to teach us what to do, or what not to do. These things are all part of nature, even our strange lifestyle is part of nature, as are we. There are those people that will not eat meat and consider it wrong for people to eat meat, do they protest the tiger, fighting extinction, and begrudge him his last meal?

Heaven and Earth are eternal, our physical selves, not so much. The Human experience for an individual is all we have here and now. Do not fret or worry about mother Earth, she will survive. Our only challenge is to deal with each moment correctly, enjoy what we have and let nature take its course.

If we are going to live full and joyous lives, we need to live in harmony with the way things are, adapt and overcome. To change with change is the way of nature; to be discontent is the greatest misfortune.

Happy Earth Day

Qigong Attitude   3 comments

First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.

Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.

Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.

There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free.  The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses.  Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.

Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.

Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training.  Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth.  Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.

The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Taoist Meditation Lesson #2 (Basics Part 2)   1 comment

Finding the Way

In part one, I laid out the premise for “energy based” meditation techniques that are the basis of Taoist praxis.

While training with my Sifu, Master Dong, I would notice a certain smile upon his face while doing Qigong.  I can only describe the smile as the curious look of someone that has a secret; kind of a “I know something you don’t” grin. The reality is, that his smile is a truthful expression of just that, he does know something most people will never know.

Energy is the treasure we all can obtain, wealth beyond comprehension is always available to you. To the Taoist sages the definition of a rich man is “One who knows when he has enough.” Conversely it might be true to say that a poor man is “One that needs (or simply wants) more.”

Basic human needs not withstanding, the “Realized man” of antiquity was often a hermit living off the land, happy to live in a cave and forage for food, living close to nature.  In this light, we can see, that beyond food and shelter, “wealth”  is a relative thing. Taoists have no problems with having physical wealth, the defining thing is they don’t need any to be content.

A wise person makes themselves rich with the currency of Heaven and Earth. Gathering that treasure that flows from the Tao; accumulating virtues along the Way is the Taoist Way. Lao Tzu says, “Tao gives and gives and yet it is never depleted.”  When you have the Way you, you too will find “The more you give, the more you have.”

Our goal in learning Taoist meditation is to connect directly to energy.  Like a pile of gold coins we can sit with our energy or we can “spend” it. Every thought, image, fantasy, illusion, emotion and movement we make takes energy.  To the Taoists, purifying this energy was like refining gold. They even called the practice “Spiritual Alchemy.”  In meditation then, finding this energy and aligning with it, was and is a divine enterprise.

To the untrained, would be meditator, most attempts end in failure.  Even with advanced students it is a difficult skill to master without following certain guidelines.  For the beginner, sitting still and attempting to “align with your energy” will guarantee that you cannot. This is akin to a light bulb, that when turned on shines out incoherent light, millions of photons shooting out all willy-nilly, colliding with each other and heading off in random directions dissipating quickly into the surrounding darkness.

You need to train your energy system to focus the energy so it can flow on it’s own.  A laser beam is a wave of coherent light that has all the photons aligned with each other, all flowing in the same direction remaining focused and able to travel an almost infinite number of miles without dissipating.

In Part 3  I will describe in detail how we can train our energy to be focused like a laser beam instead of wasting most of it with “incoherent emissions” of Qi.

Previous Lesson                                                                           Next Lesson

Taoist Meditation Lesson #1 (Basics Part 1)   1 comment

Taoist Sage Sitting With His Treasure

The Taoist methods of meditation differ significantly from other “styles”.  To Taoists, the main focus of all the practices, is to understand reality, be content with that understanding, and to change what needs to change to find contentment within the truth of that reality.

This “Taoist” approach revolves around the concept of “energy”.
For example: Understand that everything is made from energy, align yourself with that energy, and the truth will set you free.

This approach is at odds with most other meditation techniques I have encountered. At least one style I know of uses the following type of format.
For example;  Imagine you are (fill in the blank), “pretend” you are happy there, “feel good” escaping from reality.

Without attempting to disrespect other methods, I will describe why the Taoist methods are more effective in this article.

The first thing is, Taoists don’t deal with “Illusions“.
Secondly, “feeling happy” can kill you and “feeling un-happy” may save your life.
Thirdly, if you do not “embrace reality” you never have lasting change.

While this all may seem obvious to many it is often subverted by many “meditation” methods in an attempt to “feel good”. The fact is the attempt to feel good is one the paths that have often lead to evil in the world. To be sure making no attempt to “feel” is a Taoist method that is highly effective. By relaxing our practice, we are  following the principle of “Wu Wei” or “non-striving” which allows for the spontaneous flow of energy, and this is a basic Taoist tenant.

The end result of “feeling good” comes not from any contrived means but spontaneously after one is aligned with Tao. Therefore, one only needs to align in order to find the truth and be set free from the endless loop of thoughts that plague the human mind.

As simple as that is, most people never find the peace from which they came from, the treasure beyond all treasures that is always within them.

Ineffective mediation techniques often lead to the following:
Stopping extraneous physicality often sends a person’s energy into the mental/emotional  realm where an untrained mind will start on a feed back loop, often enhanced by seemingly random images that get projected onto the dark screen of the “Minds Eye”.

Dealing with illusions leads to delusions that take one further away from reality. Evoking thought and emotions waste the energy that could otherwise heal you.

Thinking, feeling, visualizing, triggers emotions that send energy back into the loop of a thinking, feeling, reactive cycle that leads to distraction and rumination and frustration.  Often the overwhelmed student gives up leading to resentment that fuels more thinking feeling reacting ad nauseam. The end result is far worse than not “meditating” at all!

In the Part 2,  I will explain how we can avoid this type of pitfall, and what makes the Taoist method superior to methods that involve “thinking” or “feeling”.

 Next Lesson